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All Youve Got To Lose Is Everything
Everything, that is, if you ignore those folks whose behaviors have the greatest effect on your business.
What those people see and believe about your enterprise, pretty well determines what their follow-on behaviors will be - for example, do business with you, or move on to someone else.
Is that what you want? Of course not. So let's do something about it.
While I recognize that there are other factors bearing on the success of your business, this one is simply too important, and its impact too severe and too immediate, to ignore.
You get this airplane off the ground by listing your top outside audiences who, when they like you OR ignore you, you feel it.
In other words, they are groups of people important to you whom we refer to as target audiences or target publics. The one MOST important to you, we call your key target audience. And that's why you must list them in priority order so you know where you really need to direct your resources.
How do you determine who thinks what about you? Sounds like work, but you must continually monitor that key target audience (and probably others). Are you bothered by what they tell you? Is there a perception problem? If there is, we know it usually turns into a behavior problem, so something must be done about it now, at the perception stage.
What you've just done is establish your public relations goal - a specific behavior flowing from an equally specific perception, which we'll work on creating starting right now.
Now that you've got a public relations goal, you need a public relations strategy. Lucky for you (and for all of us), there are only three possible strategies. Create opinion among that target audience where there may be none, change existing opinion, or reinforce it. We've picked "create" so let's proceed.
With your goal and strategy in hand, you begin thinking "messages." And I mean persuasive messages carefully designed to deal with that perception problem you discovered when you interacted with your key target audience. Keep your message focused on correcting that perception problem, and keep it believable and credible. Try it out on a few colleagues to see it if really is persuasive.
Now you need a few "beasts of burden," communications tactics whose job it is to carry those persuasive messages directly to the attention of the folks who make up that key target audience of yours.
And there are tons of them from trade show appearances, awards programs and news releases to speeches, brochures, radio interviews and face-to-face meetings.
Well, here we are again at the monitoring stage. At the start of the program, you monitored the feelings and perceptions of your key target audience so that you could identify the problem and set your public relations goal and strategy.
Now, you monitor all over again to see what kind of progress you made. Specifically, you want to know how many individuals received the message, through what tactics, and how many are aware of your messages' actual content. Also gives you a chance to make mid-course corrections by adjusting both message content and your mix of communications tactics.
Keep the faith! As time goes by, you'll begin noticing signs of awareness of your business, and a growing receptiveness to what you have to say. The bottom line, of course, will be welcome indications that the behaviors you have sought to modify in your direction are, in fact, doing just that.
In public relations, that spells success!
Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website. A copy would be appreciated at bobkelly@TNI.net.
Robert A. Kelly © 2005.
Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to business, non-profit and association managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Columbia University, major in public relations.
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